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Commissioners May Change Their Minds

In Boomer v. Waterman Family Limited Partnership, ––– A.3d ––––, 1783, SEPT.TERM, 2015, 2017 WL 823712 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Mar. 2, 2017), and Modell v. Waterman Family Ltd. Partnership, –– A.3d ––, 2104, SEPT.TERM, 2015, 2017 WL 822671 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Mar. 2, 2017), the Court of Special Appeals held that the Queen Anne's County Commissioners had the authority to rescind a resolution that allowed for the rezoning of property that had been annexed into the Town of Queenstown (the "Town").

Waterman Family Limited Partnership owned 140 acres in Queen Anne's County that was zoned for agricultural and low density uses.  The Town Commissioners of Queenstown annexed the property into the Town, and then the Town Commissioners enacted a rezoning ordinance to allow higher density development of the property.  However, rezoning within five years of annexation was dependent on obtaining a waiver from the County Commissioners pursuant to Local Government Article §4-416.

The County Commissioners passed Resolution 14-31 on November 25, 2014, which granted such a waiver.  However, soon thereafter new commissioners were elected, and the new board rescinded the first resolution with Resolution 14-33 on December 9, 2014. 

Litigation followed, and the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County held that the County Commissioners had no authority to rescind Resolution 14-31.  On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals reversed. 

The court found that the resolutions were public local laws because they applied to only Queen Anne's County, a single subdivision of the State of Maryland.  Also, the court noted that Queen Anne's County is a code county.  Under Article XI-F, §6 of the Maryland Constitution, a code county may enact, amend, or repeal a public local law of that county. 

Furthermore, the court stated that Queen Anne's County had the inherent power to rescind Resolution 14-31, with the sole limitation being that vested rights may not be affected.  In the subject case, no vested rights were involved. 

Therefore, the Court of Special Appeals held that Resolution 14-33 validly rescinded Resolution 14-31.
For questions, please contact Ed Levin (410) 576-1900.


May 11, 2017




Levin, Edward J.


Real Estate